Aug 4, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; Chicago Fire midfielder Tony Tchani (12) swats at Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird (27) as they wait for corner kick in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
SANDY, Utah — While it’s not quite yet desperation time for Real Salt Lake, playing with a sense of urgency surely benefitted RSL Saturday night.
Real was riding a high following a late goal in the first half to take a 1-0 advantage, but that high wouldn’t last for long. The Chicago Fire evened things up at 1-1 in the 48th minute. However, RSL amped up its offensive efforts, and Damir Kreilach was a saving grace with two goals that sealed RSL a 2-1 victory and a crucial three points.
“Tonight was a very important one for us, [and] it was a great performance for the whole team,” Kreilach said. “In the end, it’s not so important who scored, who played. We’re one team, and in the end we would like to go into the playoffs — that’s our goal.”
Following a disappointing 0-0 draw on the road last week to the league’s worst squad in San Jose, RSL (10-9-4, 34 points) hoped to have a better performance at home in Rio Tinto Stadium. Facing off against another one of the league’s worst squads in the Chicago Fire (6-13-5, 23 points), getting three points didn’t seem like too tall of a task, but the Fire came ready to compete.
Both squads were able to play the ball into the box in the early goings of the match, but neither found the back of the net until the fleeting moments of the first half.
During stoppage time in the first half, Jefferson Savarino crossed the ball from the right side of the pitch to the center of box. Kreilach used his head to knock the ball in the back of the net and give Real a 1-0 lead.
As nice as that lead may have been, it was short-lived. Bastian Schweinsteiger fired one back in the 48th minute to even things at 1-1.
However, Kreilach came up big again for RSL.
In the 75th minute, Joao Plata passed the ball near the center of the goal and Kreilach extended his right leg just enough to score using the outside of his right foot. Though Kreilach’s touch on the end of both goals is what won the game for Real, he wanted to make sure his teammates got the credit they deserved.
“It was the perfect assist from [Savarino] and from Joao, and my job was not so difficult,” Kreilach said.
Head coach Mike Petke was back in the fold following a two-game suspension for comments he made regarding the officials and VAR, and he thought his team could have done a better job of ball movement in the first half. That being said, he was happy with how his players responded to Schweinsteiger’s goal and thought they finished the night on a high note.
And with just 12 games left before playoffs, Petke likes where his team is sitting.
“We’ve talked a lot this week about where we are in the standings, how many points are left up for grabs and how many points we think we need,” Petke said. “I think it’s a credit to this group that we’ve been in the playoff picture for three months now, been above the line. We need to stay there though. I think that guys are at the point of the season … where they’re realizing now that time’s precious and we need to make the most of it.”
Real will look to continue its magic at home Aug. 11 when it hosts the Montreal Impact for an 10 p.m. ET kickoff.